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Overnight rescue dig saves toddler trapped in Thai well

Following an overnight emergency operation, rescue workers and military carry a 1 year-old from a deep hole in the northern Thailand province of Tak, 420 kms. (260 miles) north of Bangkok, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. The toddler, who is from Myanmar, fell into the 15 meter deep hole used for groundwater pipes yesterday evening. (AP Photo/Chiravuth Rungjamratratsami)

BANGKOK (AP) — An overnight rescue operation successfully retrieved a 19-month-old girl from a dry artesian well shaft Tuesday — 18 hours after she fell into the hole at a cassava farm in northern Thailand.

Rescuers clapped and cheered as the toddler, the daughter of migrant workers from Myanmar, was pulled out of the 15-meter (49-foot) -deep well shaft and placed on an a stretcher that carried her to a waiting ambulance.

“Great job, guys. We did it!” exclaimed one rescuer as his colleagues in Tak province’s Phop Phra district wept and hugged each other.

The child fell into the hole late Monday afternoon while her parents were working at the plantation.

The deep pit, dug by the landowner to be an artesian well, had been left uncovered after it failed to strike groundwater, Phop Phra district chief Sanya Phetset told Thairath TV on Tuesday.

The first rescuers to arrive at the scene shouted down the hole, and heard the child cry back, local media reported. A camera was then lowered into the hole to check the situation, and after that a tube was snaked into it to provide oxygen.

Rescuers dug overnight alongside the pit, about 30 centimeters (12 inches) wide, using several backhoes and other excavation devices.

“It seemed like an easy operation at first because it looked like loose dirt, but once we started digging we found rock, which made it difficult because excavators can’t dig through it,” Sanya said.

He explained that the operation was delicate because the digging risked collapsing the sides of the well onto the child.

The toddler was immediately sent to Phop Phra Hospital after being carried to safety.

“She is safe now. She’s a bit tired but there’s nothing serious,” Sanya said.

The Associated Press

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